Early Music

Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride

Pinchgut Opera. Caitlin Hulcup, Grant Doyle, Christopher Saunders, Christopher Richardson, Margaret Plummer, Nicholas Dinopoulos, Cantillation choir, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker, Erin Helyard
Classical, Early Music, Opera
Pinchgut Live PG006
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“A beautiful Australian revival of Gluck’s great revolutionary opera.” Quite a number of the very important musical masterpieces of the 18th century are not part of the canon of commonly performed works today. One of the greatest of all such neglected works is Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, first performed in Paris in 1779…. continue reading »


Brandenburg Celebrates

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir directed by Paul Dyer. Soloists: Shaun Lee-Chen, Baroque violin; Jamie Hey, Baroque cello; Melissa Farrow, Baroque flute
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1929
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

A triumphant performance of Zadok the Priest (Handel’s famous coronation anthem of 1727) on the first track of this brilliant CD sets the scene for an exciting selection recorded in 2015, to celebrate 25 years of music making by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir. This renowned ensemble has released 18 CDs under the ABC… continue reading »


Lina Andonovska: Flute. Music by Bach, Martinu, & Vine

Lina Andonovska, flute; Rachael Tobin, cello; Ying Ho, piano; Kimberley Steele, piano
Classical, Early Music, New Music
Self-release
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Australia has a long tradition of strong flute playing, going back several generations. Among the leading younger inheritors of the tradition is the Melbourne-based Lina Andonovska, who has been building a solid reputation both nationally and overseas. She is a highly versatile musician, comfortable across a range of styles, most notably in the area of… continue reading »


The Fairy Queen, by Henry Purcell

Pinchgut Opera conducted by Antony Walker. Principal soloists: Sara Macliver (soprano), Sally-Anne Russell (mezzo- soprano), Jamie Allen, Paul McMahon (tenors), and Stephen Bennett (bass). Supporting soloists: Miriam Allan, Belinda Montgomery, Alison Morgan (sopranos), Jenny Duck-Chong (mezzo-soprano), Brett Weymark (tenor), Corin Bone, Simon Lobelson (baritones). Cantillation (chamber choir) and the Orchestra of the Antipodes led by Anna McDonald
Classical, Early Music, Opera
ABC Classics 481 1705
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

At the time Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was composing the music for The Fairy Queen, the London public had developed a definite taste for dramas presented as fanciful large scale spectacles with music and dances as well as dialogue. This new genre was called ‘semi-opera. It had developed from a mix of Restoration court masque and… continue reading »


Heard This and Thought of You. Music by Ortiz, Banister, Keller, Locke, Barbeler, Bach, Beamish, Palestrina, Seattle

James Crabb, classical accordion; Genevieve Lacey, recorders
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1874
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

There isn’t, you’ll be surprised to hear, a vast repertoire for recorder(s) and accordion, though the ever-resourceful Genevieve Lacey and James Crabb haven’t let this stand in their way. Their newly-released Heard this and thought of you is, as you might expect from two such excellent performers, never less than charming, displaying great musicianship, virtuosity… continue reading »


Prima Luce. A Collection of Christmas Hymns and Chants

Prima Luce. Lily Kelly, Rioghnach McCaughan (sopranos), Genevieve McCaughan, Xavier Piat (altos), John Brazier, James Doig (tenors), Ronan Reilly, Cormac McCaughan (basses)
A cappella, Choral Music, Classical, Early Music, New Music, Plainchant
SWCD 1411
www.primalmusic.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Prima Luce is a group of nine young Catholic musicians who released this excellent CD of Christmas choral music in 2014 as part of their wish “to promote the beauty of the Catholic Church’s musical patrimony” (quoted from their website at http://www.primalucemusic.com). I think they have succeeded wonderfully well. Underpinning their beautiful singing is their… continue reading »


Bach. Piano transcriptions by Reger, Vaughan Williams, Busoni, Goossens, Grainger, Saint-Saëns, Martucci and others.

Antony Gray
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 4765171 (3 CDs)
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

When period-instrument performances of Baroque music became mainstream in the 1970s, it must have seemed like a breath of fresh air after the sort of outings in which, as Debussy once put it, Bach seems to ‘bear the weight of many subsequent centuries’. Faster tempos, stylish ornamentation and smaller ensembles made for a clearer appreciation… continue reading »


Reinventions

Genevieve Lacey and Flinders Quartet
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Recorder exponent extraordinaire Genevieve Lacey is the brains and lungs driving this engaging assembly of new meetings with old friends. She is aided and abetted by the Flinders Quartet, comprising Erica Kennedy, Matthew Tomkins, Helen Ireland and Zoe Knighton. Six of J.S. Bach’s Inventions set the pulses of Elena Kats Chernin racing – and ours… continue reading »


Resonances: Music for Harp: The Marshall McGuire Collection

Marshall McGuire, harp
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1482. 2 CDs
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Marshall Maguire is one of our national treasures in the field of music performance, particularly in new classical music where he has contributed brilliantly to many modernist and experimental scores. This double CD release (mainly) of solo harp music represents a rather different side of Maguire’s artistic practice. One could say that none of the… continue reading »


Emerald Leopard. Works by Brooke Green, Kats-Chernin, Andrea Pandolfo, Ross Edwards, and Gibbons, Morley, Dowland

Josie and the Emeralds. Josie Ryan (soprano), Brooke Green, Laura Moore, Catherine Upex, Fiona Ziegler (viols).Guest artists: Belinda Montgomery (soprano), Margo Adelson, Anthea Cottee, Elizabeth Rumsey, Laura Vaughan (viols), Jacques Emery (double bass and percussion)
Classical, Early Music, New Music
Tall Poppies TP233.
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Josie and The Emeralds have received critical acclaim for their concerts in Sydney and Canberra since their formation in 2011. They play an innovative mix of Renaissance works, original compositions by Brooke Green (their director), and her arrangements of both Renaissance and contemporary pieces. They have selected favourites from their current repertoire to produce this,… continue reading »


Smörgåsbord – The Marais Project

The Marais Project directed by Jenny Eriksson and Tommie Andersson
Classical, Early Music, Folk, New Music
MOVE MCD 512
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Each new CD from the Marais Project is a revelation, either of lesser-known works or of new contexts for this collection of early instruments. This current CD continues their tradition with a primary focus on the classical, folk and popular music of Sweden presented in the lush rich tones of baroque instrumentation—indeed a tasty and… continue reading »


Handel. Rodelinda: Selected Arias

Sydney Lyric Orchestra, cond. Richard Bonynge. Rodelinda - Valda Wilson (soprano), Bertarido - Fiona Janes (mezzo soprano), Grimoaldo - John Longmuir (tenor), Eduige - Liane Keegan (mezzo soprano), Unulfo- Lorina Gore (soprano), Garibaldo - Michael Lewis (baritone)
Arias, Classical, Early Music, Music, Opera
ABC Classics 481 0987
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

This disc is pure joy to listen to! One exquisite aria after another (16 in all!) beautifully sung by a top cast of six singers and supported by an excellent small orchestra. Of course the opera is one of Handel’s masterpieces but I suspect the magic ingredient that makes this interpretation so special, is the… continue reading »


Pillar of Wisdom (Cantigas de Santa Maria, Vol. IV). Gabriel’s Message (Cantigas de Santa Maria, Vol. V). (Two discs)

The Renaissance Players, directed by Winsome Evans
Classical, Early Music
Tall Poppies TP 231 and 232
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

These two discs conclude a five CD series drawing from the extensive collection of songs in the Cantigas de Santa Maria attributed to King Alfonso X (1221-1284) of Castile. Every one of the 420 poems with musical settings in the manuscript makes mention of the Virgin Mary, placing her in the narrative often in direct… continue reading »


For Emperor and Pope. Music for a Renaissance Court

The Song Company plus Tommie Andersson, lute
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 481 1091
Reviewed by , January 2nd, 2015

The extraordinary figure of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I lies behind part of the programme for the Song Company’s latest CD, For Emperor and Pope. One of the extraordinary cultural patrons of the Renaissance, among Maximilian’s less felicitous ideas was that of offering himself seriously as a candidate for the papacy. But his marriage… continue reading »


Bach: The Cello Suites

Michael Goldschlager
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4625 2CDs
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

The Cello Suites of J S Bach are probably the most well-known solo cello works in the repertoire, yet it is hard to know the composer’s true intentions because no manuscript in the composer’s hand exists. Any daring cellist is left with the choice of what information to accept from the more than eighty editions… continue reading »


Pilgrimage to Montserrat

The Renaissance Players, directed by Winsome Evans
Classical, Early Music
Tall Poppies TP 229 2CDs
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Recording and performing for nearly fifty years, The Renaissance Players, conceived and led by the indefatigable Winsome Evans, has always combined research with scholarly-informed interpretation and a cheeky sense of fun in the creation of music with vigour and excitement. Indeed, every Renaissance Players performance is an event with a variable troupe of musicians, mimes,… continue reading »


The Classic 100: Baroque and Before

Many Australian and international soloists, ensembles and orchestras
Classical, Early Music
8-CD box set, ABC Classics 482 0818
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

How fascinating it is that a classical audience should choose Handel over Bach as favoured Baroque and Before composer with The Messiah which came first. Worthy? Perhaps, but Bach does not rate a mention until his St. Mathew’s Passion which comes in at number five. Here we are privy to just a five minute snippet… continue reading »


Seraphim

Sara Macliver, soprano. Orchestra of the Antipodes, Brett Weymark conductor. West Australian Symphony Orchestra, conductor Benjamin Northey; other artists
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4362
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

This ABD Classics portrait cd of Sara Macliver opens with Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim” (from Samson). The difficult coloratura is clear and the duet between voice and Leanne Sullivan’s fine trumpet playing is exciting. The close collaboration with Brett Weymark (conductor) and the Orchestra of the Antipodes has resulted in splendid phrasing and a… continue reading »


Purcell, Handel

Miriam Allan, soprano, with Ironwood
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4997
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Miriam Allan, born in Newcastle (Australia), has a fine soprano voice well suited to the music of the Baroque period. It is flexible, clear and excellently tuned. She has carved an impressive international career performing mainly works by Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi and Monteverdi. This CD is with Ironwood, an ensemble of nine players,… continue reading »


Empires

Latitude 37. Julia Fredersdorff violin, Laura Vaughan viol and lirone, Donald Nicolson harpsichord and organ
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 481 0483
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

The second CD from this baroque trio, like their first self-titled CD, exposes an exciting concept to contextualise the practice of baroque music. It is conceived as a journey through the conflicted territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the late seventeenth century, centred in present-day Germany. With control of the bordering territories by the… continue reading »


Lady Sings the Viol: 700 Years of Songs for Voice & Viols

The Marais Project, Jennifer Eriksson director
Classical, Contemporary, Early Music, New Music, Popular
MOVE MCD 481
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Despite radical changes in composition processes in the last two hundred years and the introduction of electronic instruments and recording, Western orchestral instrumentation has changed relatively little. We accept it as normal to play musics from a very broad range of genre and period on our ‘modern’ orchestral instruments. However, ‘pre-modern’ instruments, such as those… continue reading »


F. Joseph Haydn: L’Anima del Filosofo: Orpheus + Eurydice

Elena Xanthoudakis, Andrew Goodwin, Derek Welton, Craig Everingham, Cantillation, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker conductor
Classical, Early Music, Opera
Pinchgut Live PG001 (2 CDs)
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

This recording compiled from live performances of Haydn’s final opera is a revelation. The first CD produced by Pinchgut Opera under the label Pinchgut Live, the recording captures the energy of the performances without sacrificing quality, apart from a couple of moments of harshness on the recording of Elena Xanthoudakis’ voice. Following the death of… continue reading »


Bach, Brandenburg Concertos

Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker, conductor
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 1923
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Although there seems to be no evidence that Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt paid much attention at all to the ‘Brandenburg’ concertos — he appears never to have organised for their performance, for example — great attention has been paid to them ever since their rediscovery in 1849. For generations of listeners, these concertos almost… continue reading »


Mysteries of Gregorian Chant

Singers of St Laurence, conducted by Neil McEwen
Classical, Early Music, Plainchant
ABC Classics 4765106
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Given its over two millennia long history, one might have imagined the liturgical chant of the Christian church to have been better recorded than it is. To be fair, recordings of plainchant are not exactly lacking, but the appearance of a recital-style disc almost completely dedicated to ‘Gregorian’ chant is a reasonably rare thing and… continue reading »


John Dowland — Sorrow stay

Rosemary Hodgson lute, Justin Burwood, tenor
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics, 476 4998
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Every so often, a CD comes along that gets absolutely everything right.  Just such a CD is Rosemary Hodgson and Justin Burwood’s recital of lute songs and solos by John Dowland, a recording that meets surprisingly limited competition in the discography notwithstanding the crucial role Dowland plays in the history of late Renaissance s This… continue reading »


The Reef (DVD)

Australian Chamber Orchestra. Richard Tognetti, Jon Frank, Mick Sowry, Iain Grandage
Classical, Early Music, New Music
DVD ABC Classics 076 2850
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Richard Tognetti’s introduction to The Reef captures his overall philosophy in the most beautiful way. He describes the magical experience of playing Bach and Beethoven in a small shed near where the desert ‘pours into the sea’ at Ningaloo Reef in north Western Australia. He hopes we will enjoy the coming together of the live… continue reading »


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